In Khayyam Chowk, a couple of kilometres from Dal Gate, there’s a row of no-frill, basic dhabas that are fairly clean and respectable. Here you can try the mutton seekh kebabs or tikkas, served on a plate with six kinds of chutney. The best one is Imran Café, misleadingly named because you certainly won’t get any coffee here!
On Residency Road, you’ll find Linz Café, a single-storey structure in a park shaded by the mighty chinars. Their seekh kebabs are served with sautéed onions, and are hearty, meaty and very tasty. Wash them down with a cup of tea or coffee. Down the road is Ahdoos, which is easily the best restaurant in the Valley and an iconic eating joint that every visitor to Srinagar aims to make time for at least once. Here they serve the traditional Kashmiri wazwan, but presented a la carte. Try the ristas, mirchi korma and the methi maaz, which is chopped sheep stomach that sounds less than felicitous, but is actually quite delicious.
Ahdoos has two entrances. The main entrance is from Residency Road. That is the side that has the Ahdoos bakery shop where, among other things, the Shrewsbury biscuits are said to be better than the original ones at Pune’s iconic Kayani Bakery! Cross the road and hop into Pick n Choose, where you can pick up canned wazwan preparations (ristas, gushtabas, kebabs and so on, all with gravy). Another must-buy here is the Kashmiri ver (a red, spicy masala mix), sold in the form of a moist cake in a plastic jar. You take out a spoon at a time, and add it to dal or vegetables towards the end of the cooking to jazz things up.
Kashmiris are inspired bakers, so you must visit one of the dozens of dozens of traditional bakeries in the Old City.
Srinagar doesn’t have too many cafés that are both comfortable for a mixed crowd as well as located in extraordinarily lovely surroundings. Chaff Jaai is actually the only one, and is housed inside a heritage property on the bund, overlooking the river Jhelum across the main Residency Road. This beautiful tea room boasts a blend of Kashmiri and English influences and it’s the perfect place to nibble on a scone or a Kashmiri tchot (bread) with salt tea or the classic Earl Grey and just soak in the serene vibe.
Kashmiris are inspired bakers, so you must visit Jee Enn in Polo View for ginger cookies, Moonlight for walnut fudge, and any of the dozens of traditional bakeries in the Old City or Le Delice on Boulevard for French patisserie to see for yourself just how good the breads, tea cakes or baguettes can be.
Nadru moinj (lotus stem pakodas) with chopped onion chutney
Piping hot halwa purl and tchot (Kashmiri bread)
Masale (moth ki dal, rajma and wheat kernels) Kashmiri tea or kahwa ‘Chalu’ chai and pakodas